Cross Country Off To Fast Start

After starting the season with a win against Stevens Institute of Technology on Friday, Aug. 29, the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams participated in the Vassar Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 6. The Men’s team placed first in the event, while the Women’s team tied for first place with Vassar College for the overall team title.

Head Coach Mike Trunkes said both teams show their unrelenting commitment to their sport and are always going the extra mile in training.

“They don’t have the same social weekend as the average college student here at SUNY New Paltz,” Trunkes said. “They are adjusting training to every individual’s pace and with that, are making sacrifices for the good of the team. It is a team commitment.”

This season, both the men’s and women’s teams have been making a concerted effort to run more miles a week, Trunkes said. Many of the men’s team runners are running an average of 80 to 100 miles a week. This will continue through October and slow down in November as they prepare for the Championships.

“The Women’s team is progressively developing as they get older and accumulate more mileage,” Trunkes said.

Fourth-year women’s runner Terisa Woych has confidence that both teams are strong this year.

“This season, we as a team, are the strongest we have ever been,” she said.

Woych believes that a lot of the team’s success has to do with the emphasis Trunkes has put on “pack running” and training in groups.

“It challenges us to rely on one another and push each other,” she said.

Woych spent last semester training abroad in Scotland with running coach Leslie Kelly. She is coming off a summer of 70-75 miles a week, she said.

While she was there, Woych achieved the goal of completing a 5k in under 18 minutes.

“In Scotland, I was able to sub 18:00 on the track with a time of 17:58 at British University Championships,” she said. “This was huge for me and makes me only the second Hawk to ever sub 18.”

Woych also said that her outlook on cross country was totally changed after her trip training abroad.

“[Kelly] gave me a new perspective to the sport,” Woych said.  “It’s incredible to run with a group of girls so driven and determined, with the same overall goal of qualifying for nationals.”

Fourth-year Men’s Captain Mike Scher also believes that much of their success comes from the overall increased mileage.

“Everyone has increased their mileage significantly with the majority of the team running at, or over, 80 miles a week,” he said.

Scher said that despite their hard training thus far, the team still understands that they have a long season ahead.

“It is important to not get ahead of ourselves and overtrain,” he said.

The men’s team has a total of six fourth-years this season and the women’s team has five. Woych said that fourth-year women’s runners Maggie Verspoor and Gabby Mancuso have provided the team with a greater equity than last season.

“The three of us balance each other really well and our strengths and weaknesses balance incredibly for a really strong top end,” she said. “Overall, everyone is beyond excited at the potential we have as a team to do some serious damage not only in the conference, but in the region. Watch out, Geneseo.”

Next up on the schedule, the Hawks participate in the UMass Dartmouth Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 20 in North Dartmouth, Massachusets and then the Paul Short Invitational on Friday Oct. 3, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.